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Loved ones recall a well-lived young life

Local woman an inspiration even in death

Posted: January 17, 2009 9:16 p.m.
Updated: January 18, 2009 4:59 a.m.

Randy Salmont is greeted by friends during a memorial service for his daughter Katelyn Saturday at the Tournament Players Club. She died Dec. 25 as a result of complication from cystic fibrosis. She was 22.

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A mix of emotions lingered in the room as friends and family celebrated the life of the late Katelyn Nicole Salmont.

"Within minutes of meeting her, she would kidnap your heart and you wanted to give her everything," said Shelly Wilson, friend of Salmont and girlfriend of Salmont's father. "She was so vibrant and fun and cared deeply about everyone."

A couple days before Christmas, Salmont visited the doctor because she was not feeling well, Wilson said.

Her doctor discovered she had an overwhelming infection of pneumonia that claimed her life on Dec. 25.
Salmont was 22.

At age 2, she was diagnosed with a life-threatening genetic disease known as cystic fibrosis. The disease affects about 30,000 people in the United States and causes sufferers to develop thick mucus buildup in the lungs, resulting in deadly infections.

"I've known for 20 years this day would come, but that doesn't make it any easier," said Katelyn's father, Randy Salmont. "She was courageous, fearless and fun-loving. She had the courage to skate hard on a thin lake."

The memorial service, hosted at the Tournament Players Club in Valencia, was a four-hour tribute to Salmont's life, filled with speeches, music, prayer and a slideshow.

Katelyn Salmont lived with her family in San Francisquito Canyon with plenty of horses around her.

She liked to snow ski and water ski but she loved to ride horses. Her last horse was named Big Red.

"She had such a natural ability on horses and it was incredible to watch her," said Breanne Erickson, a friend and fellow rider. "Horses loved her and that's special to see as an equestrian."

"She was so full of life, all the time," she continued. "This was a celebration of her life, that's what she would have wanted - people to come together and be thankful instead of sad."

One of Salmont's adoring trainers, Beth Cadwallader, said no one could have even guessed Salmont struggled with cystic fibrosis.

"I admired her strength and courage," Cadwallader said with watery eyes and a trembling voice.

Salmont's creed, Cadwallader said, was, "Chew nails and spit rust. Shut up, suck it up and ride!"

Family friend Julie Cowan, of Castaic, said what she received from Salmont in the end was deep compassion.

"She transferred passion through animals and infused amazing life into my existence," she said.

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